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Inside the Beltway: Romney’s Mount Olympic

- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2012

As the mainstream news media ramps up reports of Republican disunity over Mitt Romney's campaign style, it's interesting to note that the nominee has been photographed multiple times recently in what could be his favorite summer wear: A navy blue casual shirt with a "Salt Lake City 2002" logo. Lucky shirt? Maybe. Reminder? Perhaps.

As CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee a decade ago, Mr. Romney's leadership during those troubled games was a productive and positive influence. And that idea infuriates progressives and Democrats who insist it was "taxpayers" who saved the 2002 Olympics, not Mr. Romney.

They will get even more vexed once the 2012 Summer Olympics coverage starts, loaded with $7 million worth of campaign ads from Mr. Romney's political action committee Restore Our Future, to be broadcast in 11 key states beginning July 31. Mr. Romney himself will attend the games with wife Ann, even as critics dispute his business and organizational prowess both then and now.

Yeah, well. There may be no argument at all, judging from a nonpartisan analysis published on Jan. 6 by PolitiFact, a research project at the Tampa Bay Times known for its "Truth-o-Meter," among other things.

"So, did Romney really 'help save the Olympic Games?' That's a broad claim. Was he successful at not just fixing the Salt Lake Olympics, but also saving the Olympic tradition?" asked analyst Matt Clary, who pored over media accounts and official reports, and even bothered to conduct personal interviews with three eyewitnesses.

"Our ruling. While it may be stretch to suggest the future of Olympics themselves were at stake during Romney's time in Salt Lake, by all accounts, he did help the city's moribund Olympic committee reverse its fortunes after an embarrassing scandal and brought the 2002 Winter Olympics to a successful conclusion. We rate Romney's claim 'mostly true,'" Mr. Clary concluded in his report. Visit the entire project here: www.politifact.com.

ELECTION FATIGUE

"Republicans and Democrats find little to agree on these days, but they have some similar reactions to the 2012 presidential campaign. Nearly identical percentages of Republicans and Democrats say the election will be exhausting," says a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released Thursday.

Behold, the telling numbers that quantify emotional reactions to a shrill, relentless presidential race that will continue for another 17 weeks:

Among Americans in general, 67 percent say the election is "exhausting." So do equal numbers of GOPers and Democrats. Also, 63 percent overall call the race "annoying." Two-thirds of Republicans agree, as do 53 percent of less irritated Democrats. Independents are the most vexed of all: 7 out of 10 say the election is both exhausting and annoying.

And moving right along, 8 out of 10 Americans overall acknowledge the campaign is "important." But 56 percent also deem it "dull"; 56 percent say it's "too long"; 53 percent, "too negative"; and 52 percent, "not informative." And with that, we'll close, because this recitation is getting dull. And too long. See it all here: www.people-press.org.

HOOAH

From our Oh, Yeah Desk: weekend viewing for those who appreciate heroes. The Discovery Channel offers an inside look at the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment via a program appropriately titled "Hell and Back: Special Ops Ranger." Much in focus: 144 candidates who gut out an eight-week training course called Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.

The regiment is "a lethal and agile force, capable of executing myriad complex, joint special operations missions. You won't see them in the headlines, but they're the Army's premier raid force, and they're always combat-ready," the network says, noting, "They have never allowed cameras into their compound — until now."

The program airs at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

SMOKE SIGNALS

"Now is the time to let your voice be heard on the subject of marijuana legalization," proclaim the organizers of the upcoming 21-city "Weed Not Greed Tour," who depart from the, uh, Seattle Hempfest in mid-August aboard a 45-foot billboard-emblazoned tour bus. They arrive Sept. 6 in Charlotte, N.C., just in time for the Democratic National Convention.

The Republican National Convention is not on the itinerary, however, though the sponsoring Cannabis Information Network is headquartered near Tampa, Fla., site of this year's GOP convention. Their tour ends in the nation's capital on Sept. 11.

"This will be the biggest tour to make cannabis legal and will have a memorable effect on the people of the USA," predicts one official.

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

"Gary Hart is just Jerry Brown without the fruit flies."

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Robert Strauss — then chairman of the Democratic National Committee — on Sen. Gary Hart, quoted in the Conservative Digest in May 1987.

POLL DU JOUR

c28 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican; 22 percent have an unfavorable opinion; 50 percent have not heard of him or have no opinion.

• 24 percent have a favorable opinion of Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican; 20 percent have an unfavorable opinion; 56 percent have not heard of him or have no opinion.

• 23 percent have a favorable opinion of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; 20 percent have an unfavorable opinion; 57 percent have not heard of him or have no opinion.

• 19 percent have a favorable opinion of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican; 20 percent have an unfavorable opinion; 61 percent have not heard of him or have no opinion.

• 11 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican; 10 percent have an unfavorable opinion; 79 percent have not heard of him or have no opinion.

Source: A CNN/ORC survey of 1,517 U.S. adults conducted June 28-July 1; all men are considered potential Republican vice presidential candidates.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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